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Spring Break 2023

Going back to 2019 when I entertained the idea of visiting friends that live in Oregon, my oldest child had expressed many times that she wanted me to take her to Oregon at some point. Just the two of us. I’m all for providing travel experiences for my children. I want them to see the world, or at least as many places within reach of my budget. While I had been to many places in my youth such as California and Grand Canyon, the big difference is that those were cross-country driving trips for necessity of moving to a new location. Anyway, I want my kids to explore and experience this great, vast country with them before time runs out when they are no longer kids anymore. Of course little did any of us know what 2020 would bring the world with the pandemic, but it is what it was. I had a couple of false starts for my planned trip as we all know. Since my kids are on different spring break schedules due to attending different schools I made the plans for an Oregon trip in 2023 with my daughter. This is all a commitment to my kids that when they reach sixteen they each will get to make a solo trip with me of their choice (as long as it is within the continental United States). It’s also great to have friends in the places you want to visit.

Here are the stories of each Spring Break trips. First up, the Magpie and her trip, followed by the Maddog’s mini-trip.

Part 1 – The Magpie‘s Break

Friday, March 24

The big travel day, or rather evening, since we headed to the airport soon after she was out of school. Flying Alaska Air of course because they are awesome, flying directly to Seattle only to catch a short flight down to Portland. The plane left early (even with a de-icing treatment before leaving Cleveland). Flight wasn’t too bad, a little turbulence due to massive storms forming, but really uneventful. Premium seats upgrade is the way to go on a long distance flight, if not flying first class, with more leg room and a nice complimentary beverage. Approaching Seattle we did fly through a snowstorm which made it appear like we were in hyperspace. Saw a very faint glimpse of Mt. Rainier even through the haze.

Spring Break has sprung!
That really is Mt. Rainier (Tahoma) right of center

We had a short stop in Seattle which included a visit to the lounge for a moment to get some food and beverages before we had to hop on the plane to Portland. Alaska Lounges are just fabulous places to chill even for a moment. Grabbed some peanut butter and cookies.

The amusing thing about the flight from Seattle to Portland is that it is only a 33 minute flight with most of this grand total hour “flight” waiting to take off from busy SeaTac.

Arriving into PDX the weather was just like Seattle, rainy and cold. We de-boarded quickly and make our way to baggage to pick up our suitcase (expected to bring some additional items home from trip). Not much after we got to the baggage claim we grabbed the suitcase and make our way to the rental car facility which is at the airport. Rental car pickup should always be  within walking distance at the airport (looking at you SeaTac). It was the easiest rental car pick-up I have ever encountered. Thanks to my employer’s discount code it provides the perk of going right to the car. No waste of time at the counter and all of the upgrade attempts they try to talk you into. We got a white Toyota RAV4 which is just like the wife’s car except for this one was a base model with no options to speak of. It also had an old school insert key into steering column and turn type. I still had issues remembering to do this the entire trip.

We make our way to downtown Portland to spend some time exploring the city for a day and half before meeting up with my friend JC and his family. I picked Hotel Lucia for location and affordability (also great amenities). We arrive just before 11pm local which is just before 2am back home. Long day! The valet assists with bags and we get checked in. We had missed the evening complimentary beer and wine tasting, but the host still provided me with a local cider.

We get to our room and finally settle in. The room has two cozy twin beds with a seating area and large windows overlooking an atrium. Again, nicely appointed with artwork like the rest of the hotel.

Goodnight Portland.

Saturday, March 25

I wake up, as usual, at 2:30am local and try to go back to sleep. I eventually got myself back to sleep, but still woke up at 6:30. I went and grabbed a coffee in the lobby and checking out the art. Stellar artwork in the Hotel Lucia.

Teenager enjoying Hotel Lucia
Voodoo Doughnut
Yes, they must do as the sign says!

By 7 the daughter started to wake up. We head out so she can have the Voodoo Donut experience. Just a short walk from the hotel. We pass the Big Pink (Portland’s second tallest tower with a restaurant at the top) and Old Town’s China town Gate (which she refused to take a picture by). No line at Voodoo and quickly grabbed our fill. I went with the Old Dirty Bastard and a Maple Bacon Bar. Got a photo of the “Keep Portland Weird” mural and then picked up a super fresh cup of Stumptown coffee at the original location.

Cherry blossom blooming around a teenager
Cherry blossoms
A city of bridges

We headed back to the hotel to enjoy our sugar treats before the next destination, down to the riverfront for cherry blossoms and Saturday Market. I could not have planned this trip any better than with the lovely cherry tree blossoms starting to pop at the Japanese American Historical Plaza on the Willamette River. While it was early blossoms it was still a treat to see. We then took in the Saturday Market that is next to the cherry trees. The Saturday Market is a great Saturday morning experience in Portland. Did not expect it to be as large as it is. We picked up a couple of things, but just enjoyed the variety and sights.

No Portland trip is complete without a visit to Powell’s, the world’s best book store. Within 10 minutes M had picked up 2 books. I don’t think she comprehended how awesome this bookstore really is until we walked in. She got her fill of books and we headed back to the hotel to drop off the books. 

Pho is food for the soul and you get plenty here at Luc-Lac. Just look at that decor!

Next up was grabbing lunch. There is so much great food in this town, so little time (and stomach). I suggested we go grab some pho and no place better in downtown than Luc-Lac Vietnamese Kitchen. This place is an absolute treat for both the belly and the eyes. You order when you walk in then told what table to sit at. We started noticing this is the way most places in Oregon were operating and it is very efficient. Anyway, the decor is just a feast for the eyes. It’s very colorful and just a really neat space. Our drinks arrived and not much later our food arrives. We both got the same pho, but got different bahn mi. She went with a traditional pork and I went rogue with the shrimp version. Damn good food. We were so stuffed after this. The pho was up there with our absolute favorite (Superior Pho in Cleveland), but the bahn mis were at another level. Shrimp was well seasoned and matched the flavor profile for this Vietnamese sandwich extraordinarily well. A must visit in PDX for pho fans.

On the way to Luc-Lac we had passed Pioneer Courthouse Square and decided we would stop in Columbia store (Portland is home of Columbia) on the way back to the hotel. This area of downtown is completely different feeling than Old Town for sure. More commercial with many shopping opportunities abound. Grabbed a couple of things before heading back to the hotel to digest the lovely lunch. Oh and the weather was perfect. Partly sunny so it made the city sparkle quite well.

I think we were feeling a little jet-lagged at this point. We decided to relax for a bit. I took a nap while M was going through her new pile of books. Still a little full from the yummy pho, but decided to just go grab some oysters over by Voodoo at Dan & Louis Oyster Bar. Being by the Pacific coast, which is where the best oysters come from, we had to get some oysters. The sweet, briny succulence of the Pacific oyster is unmatched in my view.

Back at the hotel I got the fill of the evening libations (cider of course). We turned in for the night.

Sunday, March 26

Today is set to be a busy day. We check out of Hotel Lucia to head for a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden, grabbing some lunch at Boxer Ramen and then meeting up with my good buddy JC and fam for the season/home opener of the Portland Thorns soccer.

I got up and to head over to Stumptown coffee, again, only this one was closer and across from Powell’s. Benefit of being an east coaster on the west coast is moving about before the general population. Grabbed my yums and headed back to the hotel. By this time the teenager was beginning to stir.

We check-out and just like checking-in, the process was smooth and the staff very pleasant. Valet pulled the car to the front and loaded our bags in. We headed up the basalt hills to the west for the Japanese Garden. Passing Providence Park where we’ll be later for the match. The hill overlooks the city and on a clear day affords a wonderful view of Mount Hood which was being shy this day hiding behind the clouds.

Getting to the garden just before opening seems to be the best time to get there because the small parking lot at the entrance was already filled by the time we parked. The lush green surrounds you immediately. It’s so green! We make our winding way up the tree-lined path passing over a little brook to the main entry plaza passing a cute little squirrel eating a pinecone. We decided to just jump right on the path saving the exhibit hall, gift shop and cafe for later. We stopped in to a gallery where there is an incredibly cool art glass exhibit. The process captures plant essence inside of a plate of glass. I have never seen anything like it. Do check out the photo gallery for more of the Japanese Garden.

Continuing on the lush green pathway, which is just so meticulous beyond words, you notice the Japanese magic of making a path and bridge appear to be floating on water and how they control bamboo. You can see why Japanese design and culture made a huge impact on Frank Lloyd Wright in his later design practices (1923 Imperial Hotel in Tokyo), but I digress. We made our way through this beautiful Portland location and ended it with an impromptu stop in Umami Cafe at gardens for some tea and goodies before heading out.

Next stop, lunch and the place I had been talking about since my last visit in Portland with JC, Boxer Ramen in Northwest neighborhood. I absolutely love this place and couldn’t wait to share this with M. We started off with a large pile of the Okonomiyaki tots with crispy pork belly, she got some sushi and I got the Spicy Red Miso and a local cider. I can’t say anything more than I haven’t already said about Boxer. I absolutely love this ramen shop and it has added another fan with M.

Next up, the soccer match. Portland is just crazy for their soccer teams. About a month before the trip I reached out to JC to let him know that the Thorns were playing on the Sunday we were there. I planned to go and JC said he’d like to take the fam as well (he has two girls). He told us to meet them at the stadium. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the season and home opener for NWSL and the Thorns. We drove around awhile looking for a parking spot, but eventually found something close and cheap. We eventually met up with JC and his brood. He amusingly stood under a KeyBank banner which is how our connection began (KeyBank, not the banner).

One thing you notice is that Portland is crazy for their soccer. Women’s or Men’s it doesn’t matter. They love the sport and Providence Park is just an incredibly beautiful park to watch a match. I got to say I was incredibly surprised by the seat location. JC got us tickets right by the pitch. So close that you could hear Thorn’s captain, Sinclair, shouting out positions and calls. Really a treat. This team is crazy talented and they continue to show why they are the premiere club of the NWSL. Really had a blast at this game. Of course it was 4-0 win for the Thorns over the Orlando Pride. Since it was a nationally televised match, apparently, Kate saw us on TV when play occurred by our seats. I was wearing my bright orange puffer which helped.

After the match, we headed back to JC’s home to spend a couple of nights at his fine abode by Reed College. I’m very lucky and fortunate to have him as a friend and for him to allow us the privilege to spend nights in their home. We all ended up heading over to PDX Sliders for same dang-on good food. I had a “slider” thinking it would be small because I was still stuffed from Boxer. I really don’t get how they can call their sandwiches sliders when it was like a regular sized sandwich. It is a value for what you get and for really good food.

Monday, March 27

A peanut butter and jelly donut from Blue Star Donuts in Portland, Oregon. Coated in peanut butter flour and filled with jelly with a spice kick.

The start of day would not be complete without a run to Blue ★ Star Donuts. Yes, Portland is known for Voodoo, but it’s Blue Star that, pardon the pun, is the star of the town when it comes to the sugary fried dough goodness. And as luck/timing would have it Blue Star had just released a peanut butter and jelly donut! They must of known I was visiting.

After the slow wake up, one of the reasons my daughter wanted to come to Portland is for the thrift/resale store shopping. Portland is well known for their bounty of stores. Yes, Portlandia covered this. I identified many in the Hawthorne neighborhood which is not far from JC’s home. We went through thrift shop after thrift shop after thrift shop. One thought crossed my mind and that is a resale store is simply a museum to capitalism. While it’s great that there are these stores that helps reduce the wasteful fast fashion industry, it is extremely sad to see how much of a consumption society we are. Regardless, I had a good time just observing my 16-year old going through every rack and subsequent store we passed through. She ended up purchasing a few items overall to take back home thus doing a little bit of good in the world.

I found some old school stickers for Maddog
Famous BBQ in Portland with taco trucks too

After the Portlandia shopping excursion it was time for some lunch. Deciding where in this town is so challenging, I figured we could hit one of the many food pods in the area. We ended up at Hinterland food pod at SE50th and Division. It’s a newer food pod with a central bar and plenty of covered seating. Ended up getting some great tacos from Matt’s BBQ Tacos and they did not disappoint. Love food pods with options to sample so many wonderful different dishes at once from different vendors.

We headed back to the JC homestead to relax for a bit. We eventually planned on some dinner. Again, in this town it is hard to select with so many great options of every style and type just every where you turn. As per usual my girl wanted more ramen and decided to go to Nama Ramen in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood. This is another usual ramen shop for the JC brood too. I went with Korean BBQ wings and it was another hit. Nice spice. The way I like it. We then followed it up with an ice cream run at Cloud City on Woodstock. I went with Sasquatch Tracks because of course.

We settled in for the night because Tuesday we bid adieu to the JC brood and head to the Oregon coast. Again, I am so lucky to have great friends in great places (the places I want to visit or live).

Tuesday, March 28

We get up and hit the road to head west as far as there is land here. The end of the Oregon Trail. I had mapped out a drive to Tillamook. Yes, the Tillamook Creamery is there. I may have been super giddy for this stop. I timed it so we could get there for some lunch and then stop at some coastal destinations buying time for an afternoon check-in at Cannon Beach.

Since I had changed my original plans of my first trip to Oregon away from visiting Cannon Beach and Astoria the year prior so I could instead visit my friend in Bend I was in no way going to miss this opportunity again. I booked a great beachfront hotel at Cannon Beach for Haystack, Ecola State Park and then a short drive up Astoria for the Goonies. More on this later.

It’s quicker to get to Cannon Beach from Portland if you stick to US26, but we had time and I was not going to miss out on stopping at Tillamook Creamery especially since they just opened the Disneyland of creameries in Tillamook, Oregon. The route (Oregon 6) to Tillamook takes you through the mountain pass of Tillamook State Forest which were still snow covered. It rained, sleeted and snowed as we drove through this mountain forest which it wasn’t as bad of driving as I expected. Very little traffic helped. It was a pretty drive even with the weather. Our favorite sign along the stretch of high mountain ranges was a single word of “Rocks” in the caution yellow diamond. Not rock slides or falling rocks, nope, just rocks! We enjoyed that. I kept repeating it as we passed others. For the record, I endured listening to Taylor Swift all the way to the Oregon coast and back.


We eventually make it to the creamery. It really is a destination worth your time right off infamous highway US101. 101 makes me think of Depeche Mode, but I couldn’t listen to DM because we were Swiftys on this beat… The giant cow over the entry signals you are about to enter a moo-verlous destination. We hopped in the meal line where there are many cheese oriented offerings, from cheeseburgers to Detroit style pizza, they have your cheese. Of course we had to get some cheese curds. They also offer a few local brews and ciders to accompany your cheesy meal. The food is delicious and it certainly is a busy place with only a few chairs open in the large dining area. Next we moved on to grab some ice cream because you have to. We got shakes of our favorite flavors; mine being the chocolate peanut butter and hers strawberry. We then walked through the large gift shop before heading out. I’m so glad this place is 2,000 plus miles away because I would just stop here every week.

We hopped back in the car and continued north on 101 heading towards Cannon Beach. We passed through Bay City, Garibaldi, Rockaway Beach and over the Nehalem River and bay area on our way for a quick stop at Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park. Apparently this is the surfer’s beach. JC told me that there is, apparently, a huge break half mile out which causes some amazing waves at this particular beach. It was pouring rain and there were a few cars in the lot. There’s a couple of trails down to the beach passing through old growth forest. The area had taken on a lot of storm damage recently so a couple of stream bridges were knocked out, but we eventually made it to the beach. Sure enough, there were surfers. The surfers had a dog with them so we got our dog fix since we are away from Titan. We got a couple of photos, did a call back to Ohio and then made our way back to the car. Cannon is not too much further north. You go through a tunnel and then you hit the stretch of Cannon Beach.

We make our way to our stay for the evening, Land’s End Hotel at Cannon Beach. We were early when we arrived and soaking wet from the small hike. The room was ready for us for an early check-in. The ocean view accommodations were absolutely perfect. Having a fireplace was perfect for this cooler, wet evening. The place is perfectly affordable, located and such a great view out to the Pacific and in our case, Tillamook Lighthouse and Ecola State Park too. We got down to the beach for a couple of photos in the pouring rain and then walked around to a couple of the shops close by before we decided on dinner.

As with all things Oregon, it seems, so many great dining options abound in Cannon Beach too. We ended up deciding on going to Public Coast Brewing Company. Named for the fact that all of Oregon’s coastline is publicly accessible. All 362 miles of Oregon’s coast being public was enacted in 1913. Since it was pouring rain we decided to drive over to it. I let the temporary tag holding teenager drive us back and forth.

Something we noticed in Oregon is that, it seemed like all places, you ordered your food and beverage at the bar and then the food and drinks are brought out to you. Very efficient! Another thing I had to have while out on the coast is fish and chips. Fresh Pacific cod is always a great choice and I can say Public Coast has a decent fish and chips. I paired it with the blueberry wheat ale for a tasty combo.

We headed back to the hotel and by this time I noticed that the rain had stopped and there was a break in the clouds. And just like that I was capturing my first Pacific sunset! I’ve been to various places on the coast for sunset, but none directly on the Pacific or without obstructing direct view until now. It was stunning. The light casting a glow on the Haystack, the waves crashing off into the ocean and just the pure sky glow creates a sense of calmness to me. I think I like the Pacific sunset over an Atlantic sunrise.

Also, the Fratelli’s would not have gotten far in the rally from Haystack Rock. There’s an estuary and park not far from there.

We wind down for the night with a fire. The next day is my reason for hitting the coast. Ecola State Park, Fort Stevens and Astoria are on the agenda. Goonies! Hey you guys!

Wednesday, March 29

I get up and hit the beach for some sunrise photos while the teenager, being a teenager, sleeps. The beach was quiet and beautiful. As the sun began to rise more it burned off the clouds.

I head back to the hotel to get the teenager moving. Insomnia Coffee behind the hotel was about to open so I needed to get my coffee fix. I got an Aztec mocha and some pastries to compliment. We then hit up the shops to pick up some shirts and stickers. You do have to be careful and be on the lookout for elk and their “remnants” left on the sidewalks when walking around Cannon Beach.

Cannon Beach is beautiful and is not filled up with a bunch of giant resorts like some of the other coastal towns we went through. I would love to come back and just do a lounging beach vacation here.

I did grab one more photo of the now awake teenager before packing up and heading up the coast.

First stop on the One-Eyed Willy Goonies trail was heading to Ecola State Park up that poor road Brand takes flight on with a kiddie bike. The restaurant that the Fratelli’s were hiding out was just a prop set and restrooms/covered shelter are actually in that spot. There are signs around Oregon pointing out movie filming locations like Stand By Me, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy and obviously Goonies. We got our photos and headed out.

Next stop, Fort Stevens to check out the Wreck of the Peter Iredale passing through a popular Oregon resort town of Seaside. Coincidentally this day was the start of Oregon’s gray whale watch. At certain beaches along the Oregon coast spotters document the gray whale migration from the south heading up the coast to the Arctic. Fort Stevens had one of the spotter teams set up at the Iredale area. Let me just say this beach is massive. Very wide. In fact, you can drive on the beach. Plenty of space for you to spread out without some other group up on you. Being a former military installation there are battery fortifications elsewhere to explore which reminds me of Fort Worden up at Port Townsend, Washington where we visited last August. We grabbed more photos and then made our way to Astoria. On the way we found some elk hanging out on a soccer field.

On the way into town we passed the bowling alley we’re Chunk smashes his Pepsi into the glass as the police give chase to the Fratelli’s. I decided I wanted to grab some lunch at Fort George. Astoria has plenty of brewery and cider houses to choose from besides Fort George. Just like many other places we dined at in Oregon placed the order at the bar and then grab a table. I ordered the Armadillo chicken sandwich, she got a burger and we got an order of their Dirty Fries piled with some pork belly, gorgonzola and peppers. Great, filling food. I of course was washing it down with a Short Sands lager.

We headed down to the waterfront where a trolley line will take you from one end of Astoria to the other. The mouth of the Columbia is super wide so there are large ships anchored in the bay. We could hear seals and sea lions barking at various locations along the pier. In fact, we watched a cute, curious little seal come swimming our way to get a look. It’s rare that orcas make their way into the Columbia so the seals know they have it made in this bay. We walked back towards the car and I stopped in Bridge & Tunnel Bottleshop & Taproom to pick up some local ciders to take back to Ohio. Great selection!

And now for the part I had been waiting for for a long time. Seeing some Goonies sites in Astoria. First off was the Flavel House Museum. The place Mikey’s dad works and waves at the kids riding their bikes past. One thing you don’t realize in the movie is that the Flavel House is right next to the jail! They strategically cut the camera shot so you don’t see that these are right across the street from each other. Of course, the Fratelli’s get away Jeep is sitting there in the jail parking lot. I love how in the 80s they called it an ORV, Off Road Vehicle. The jail now serves as an Oregon Film Museum where you can find all of the movies that have filmed in the state.

Bullet holes!

It goes without saying that we had to stop at the Goondocks. Up until recently you could not walk up the lane to the houses. For years the previous owner hired security and prevented anyone from walking up for photos. The house and fence had been altered away from the movie look as well. It’s their right, but you should probably realize what you’re buying. It has had a huge cult following from the movie’s release in 1985! Anyway, the new owner bought it to open it up and capitalize on the popularity using the model of the Christmas Story House in Cleveland. It will do well and it is welcomed. We got up close and in fact a gentlemen came out of Data’s house and said hello and welcome. The view from the house is quite something. Great view of the bay of the Columbia. Astoria is an adorable town. I could see myself living there. It just has the right vibe I love.

After getting my Goonies fill it was time to hop back in the car and head towards Portland. It’s a couple of hour drive from Astoria to Portland. The best route, US30 which goes all the way through to Ohio, where I grew up, takes you over the Columbia through Washington at Longview to pick up I5. You get a great view of Saint Helens when you get closer to Vancouver, Washington. We get to the hotel close to PDX so we don’t have far to go for our early morning flight. My last stay by the airport had a prime view of Hood with an Ikea sign perfectly placed. Unfortunately on this day Mount Hood was hiding behind the clouds. M would never get to see Mount Hood this trip.

Thursday, March 30

Just like the Friday before, it was a travel day. Time to head home, unfortunately. Drop off the car and hit up the Alaska Lounge for some breakfast. It was rainy as we leave Portland and the short flight to Seattle uneventful. Another stop at another Alaska Lounge and then on the plane back to Cleveland. We did get views of Rainier entering and leaving SeaTac so at least we got that.

I am very fortunate to be able to do these kinds of things and especially travel with my kids. I had a blast hanging out with my teenager even when she was cranking TSwift and belting line for line. I think she had a blast and it showed her a lot more of what the Pacific Northwest offers beyond Seattle and Washington. I think she’s a fan now as well. A wonderful spring break trip in a wonderful part of the country with one of my favorite people in the world.

Part 1 Photo Library

Part 2 – The Maddog‘s Break

When it came to planning out Maddog’s spring break Kate and I decided to split duties for the week with him. Since I had the plans with the Magpie, I still wanted to do something special with the boy. It didn’t take much thinking with Ohio being the “birthplace of aviation” with the Wright Brothers changing the world in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton is also home to the US Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.I got to visit it once when I was a kid and loved it then. It has obviously grown in size and expanded the collection since I was that little lad, but it is still just as exciting to me at the prospect of visit. Also, Maddog loves anything military and museums. Another important reason to visit for us is that my late father-in-law served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War piloting a C-123 with the very plane he flew on exhibit. He was part of a large mission called Operation Ranch Hand that sprayed defoliant chemicals over the forests trying to expose the hiding spots of the Vietcong. This mission was extremely dangerous for pilots and crew on these planes because they flew extremely low, slow and the C-123 was not well protected even from small arms fire. These planes were easy targets. In fact my father-in-law did receive a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during a mission. Why the plane he flew is at the museum is because it became known as Patches due to over 600 hits that were patched. It is one of the most shot up planes that continued to fly which is why it is on display to tell this story.

It’s settled, I would take the Maddog down to Dayton for a special mini-trip. Even though Dayton is not more than 3 hours away I booked a hotel to make his trip just as special for him. It was Easter weekend so I was not sure if restaurants would be closed or with shortened hours, but after a little research most restaurants are open on Easter. Or at least around the hotel we stayed at it wasn’t a problem. I booked a hotel with a pool since he loves swimming too.

We hit the road just before lunch time because just like most hotels check-in was mid-afternoon. Stopping at Sheetz for gas and snacks along the way. We arrive at the hotel, but they did not notify us that the pool was closed. Such a major bummer. We have experienced this of late with many hotels closing their pools due to materials and parts shortages. No wonder the hotel was very empty the night of our stay. He wasn’t too upset. He wanted me to take the photo of him being “fancy” in a hotel. He cracks me up. Dinner was at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse which actually is not bad for a chain. We started off with a pretzel, of course, and just enjoyed our meal-time together. We return to the hotel to enjoy a nice guy’s night of leisure lounging.

9:00am the museum open the doors. I get coffee and soon after we head towards the museum. I got the navigation set and off we went. Oddly, the directions were sending us through the gate of the active Air Force Base! Before I realized what was going on without a way to turn around we pulled up to the security checkpoint which I explained how sorry I was, but it was ok. The guard directed us to turn around and it was a non-issue. Of course the boy will never let me live this down and always makes sure people hear about my error. We finally got on the right path and pull into the museum parking lot a little early. We walked around the park before the front doors opened.

Of course you start off with how it all started with the Wright Brother’s and the Wright Flyer. You make your way through early designs and test planes before the dramatic changes in technology brought by World War 1. It was the World War 2 era planes that really captured Maddog’s attention with planes set up in scenes for authentic representation. Also, one of his favorite displays in this area was the Walt Disney contribution to the war effort with plane and unit art work. Next up, Korean and Vietnam Wars which is one of the bigger reasons why we were here.

Sadly, the area around the plane, Patches, was undergoing maintenance and blocked off from entry. I even tried asking to get access, but these are volunteers and nothing they can do. It disappoints me that there was no notice of certain exhibits being closed. Oh well, we’re going to plan a return trip again soon. We pressed on enjoying the time together and surrounded by such cool technology and history regardless of the circumstances.

Now this is where his enjoyment went to 11, being able to sit in cockpits and walk inside some massive planes. The Cold War era really cranked up the military industrial complex as evidence in how many missiles are circled in a pattern. The only good to come from this is the end of communist Soviet block.

And the last hangar at the museum touches on space and the Presidential transport. The exhibit contains the actual Air Force 1 of John F. Kennedy that transported the slain President back to Washington DC. The remnants of that somber and tragic event still scarred in the plane with removal of materials to make space for the casket in the back. As you can see, there was Lego representation as well that provided a big smile. We made a stop in the gift shop before heading out.

We left the museum and stopped for a quick lunch at an old school local hot dog stand which was enjoyed. Since Dayton is not far from Bellefontaine where my sister-in-law and husband live we decided to swing by to say hi. We caught Bob at the auto dealership where he is the head service manager. We saw a new Corvette and the Hummer electric truck that is a behemoth. We hit the road again and since we were passing through Columbus I floated the idea of stopping in at the Columbus Zoo.

We saw the things we wanted to see. It’s such a huge and spread out zoo. Even though it was a warm day the amusement side had not opened for the season. He still enjoyed it and, again, I am so happy to have shared these experiences with him. While everything didn’t go according to plan, it was the one on one experience I had with him that mattered. I enjoy every moment I have with my children. In 3 years I will take the Maddog on his trip and I can’t wait to hear where he would like to go. He has floated the idea of Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, but we’ll see what a 15/16 year old feels like then.

Proof that the trip was a success!

Part 2 Photo Library

For whatever reason, getting this together took longer than I thought and I was certainly lazy. By no means does it reflect on lack of enjoying the trip. It just seems like I have been non-stop busy since these trips occurred. I will soon follow this post with my latest trip.